November 1, 2013: Thank you James Alan Henderson.....
As we enter the month where everyone begins to reflect on gratitude, I begin with my thank you to James Alan Henderson, my sweet Marine, for coming into my life.
We didn't finish our story with a satisfactory ending. I hated the ending of our story but the beginning was wonderful. Sometimes I am afraid that I can't keep you alive enough. Whatever I can do, it's not enough. You deserve so much more. I'm glad we chose one another from the moment we met.
Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for giving me your wonderful family. Thank you for making an amazing little boy with me. Thank you for being an incredible father to our children. Thank you for blessing us with the gift of you!
Just six months without you, and I realize each day that you were right, you know -
James, you were correct when you told me:
the electric bill goes down when you turn off lights;
if you don't pay the gas bill, the house gets cold;
going away doesn’t solve anything;
outside faucets need draining;
the kid in the red mustang sells drugs;
working out is NOT just for 20 year olds;
you don’t spend capital;
furnaces need service;
cars don't run without gas;
logging checks in the checkbook register prevents overdrafts;
I was lucky to have you;
family is everything;
and you didn’t ask for much around here.
You were right when you said I’d appreciate things better after its gone.
I still need to talk to you every day. The abrupt halt in being able to talk to you about anything and everything that I need, to nothing at all, is heart-wrenching sad. I miss your laughter, and I miss you calling me your wife; such simple words carry such deep meanings: "my wife”. The kids and I used to think it was funny when we asked you something and you talked all the time. We thought you just loved to hear yourself speak. But, now we realize you were just trying to teach us lessons..... sharing your knowledge..... loving us. We miss all that talking -- what I wouldn't give to hear any of your stories of the day now!
All My Love Always,
With Jim, I was so happy and lucky and loved and at times took it all for granted. Now I am someone different: I am a widow. I am still a Mom to five beautiful children. (and now am grand-mom to the sweetest baby boy on the planet) I am still a teacher. I am still a waitress (or the politically correct word "server") Although fading, I still have not given up the idea to pursue a law degree. I still am a daughter and a sister. I still love to hear live music at concerts. I still have fantastic friends. My brain still functions on a reasonably good level (short-term memory is a bit wonky though). I still love wine and the beach. And I still love a good laugh.
And I am someone new:
I find myself showing more kindness as I have been shown kindness. I find myself seeking out the hearts of others and hearing their story. And, I find myself in a more spiritual place than I was before….
…and I know one important truth:
Love is everything. The horror of losing my husband has put my worries into perspective and reinforced the importance of kindness to all, and the invaluable love in a partnership such as I had with him.
Never Over It~
The end was terrible. He was living in pain in spite of morphine and a cocktail of many narcotics. During the last week of his life, I was praying that God would take him. So, when he died, I was grateful that it was peaceful and finally over for him. I felt relief. I thought that was the end of it. I didn't know it was a new beginning.
In my natural analytic way of thinking, I immersed myself in book after book, seeking out literature that might hold the key to saving me from the mess I was in. For me, this was all a part of trying to understand the how and the why of what had happened. I needed information. I needed answers. Sadly, these answers never came. With every new detail I acquired, I felt as if I understood less and less. All the facts in the world couldn't take away the simple truth: that my husband was gone and never coming back.
Over time, my obsession of analyzing his passing became a distraction from my grieving. Rather than facing the truth and finding healing, I was distracting myself from the pain. Well…as much as one could anyway. Eventually, I began to realize that I would always be left with a multitude of unanswerable questions and let myself drift into an ocean of pain and emotion. While I never lost that tendency towards trying to “intellectualize” my grief, I have begun to appreciate and embrace my emotional side as well. There is a delicate balance between trying to understand and just letting myself feel.
In the first week after the funeral, I read an article about grief. It gave instructions on obtaining peace, moving on, and getting over the tragedy. I thought, there is no way I will ever get over this. I was correct. I feel the loss every single minute, every single day. I have struggled for over six months with trying to obtain that peace, move on and get over it as the article suggested. But, it just is not happening. I am going to stop condemning myself for continually trying to "get over" our loss. It is not going to happen. It is an amputation. The limb that was lost in my family tree will never grow back.
The world does not allow you much time to grieve. You hear platitudes like “life goes on” and “thank God you have other family close by.” As though others can replace the one you have lost. I find you get about two months to get over it. With all fairness, no one really knows what to say. What they don’t know is that they don't need to say anything, they only need to listen.
The absence of the stress of medical crisis and bills had left this big void – a big empty space. I tried to remember what occupied my time before it all happened. I found myself talking to anyone who listened- the electrician, plumber, anyone who listened...... It came out all the time -- even in a grocery store line -- "my husband died" as if I were saying "awful weather, isn't it?" I couldn't have cared less about causing social awkwardness -- it was my truth and 100% of my reality.
I feel him around all the time. I even have gone so far as to think about going to a psychic to try to contact him. I have prayed for messages. I dream about him often. I swear I saw him in a crowd of people. I will not let him go. Someone told me that those who have gone on to the other side are allowed to stay around for a while to help and comfort; but, not forever. I wonder if I will start to feel him less and less. Or, only dreaming of him only once in a while. But, no matter if that does happen. He has never left my heart. And, he never will.....
Saying Goodbye~our final conversation~
As his life slipped away from him, I stood next to his bedside and watched, thinking this may be his last breath. He was unable to speak words, only audible sounds. I held his hand and placed it over my heart. I told him to please just rest and it was time for him to stop fighting and let go. I told him that he would always be with me. He reached out to me and looked into my eyes and I know I heard him say, "I love you." And, I will never, ever forget that moment.......
Dying Taught Me To Live~
Before my husband left, he gave me the gift of love. He looked deep into my eyes and in that moment he loved me fully. I want to honor his life and his gift by reminding myself and others to seize each moment and to love with abandon. I want to make him proud. And, I will.